The arresting police officer generally serves as the prosecution’s “star” witness. On direct examination, the officer usually begins by touting his experience and training in DUI detection. The officer will then testify as to his observations regarding the defendant and what signs and symptoms of intoxication were present. The officer will testify as to the field sobriety tests he administered to the defendant and since the case proceeded to trial, usually how the defendant failed each test. If there was a chemical test administered, the arresting officer will explain how this test was administered and what the results were. The prosecutor generally relies on the “experience” of the officer and his conclusion the defendant was intoxicated as the crux of the state’s case against the defendant.
However, it is usually the cross-examination of that officer that becomes the bright spot of the case. The seasoned DUI defense lawyer looks forward to the cross-examination of the arresting officer as much or more than any other phase of the trial. Cross-examination has been noted by legal scholars as the truest mechanism for discovering the truth. It is upon cross examination that the juror may first learn that the officer’s vast “training and experience” is actually limited to a one time class room course the officer completed ten years ago. It is upon cross examination that the juror learns the officer’s observations of the defendant were less then accurate. A skilled defense attorney knows the ins and outs of the field sobriety tests and can highlight the officer’s inaccuracies.
Challenging the arresting officer on cross-examination is usually the single most important part of a DUI trial. To be successful, it is imperative the defense attorney be more prepared, more knowledgeable and more experienced in DUI law then the officer. Without such a skilled defense attorney to seek out the truth, the officer’s testimony will often lead to the defendant’s conviction.
If you or someone you know has been charged with a DUI, you owe it to yourself to contact the experienced Rhode Island DUI defense attorney Matthew Marin today by calling 401-287-4384 for more information on how to effectively fight your case.